Originally released in the pre-DVD era in 1998, Welcome To The Videos is a showcase of 13 Guns 'n' Roses tracks ranging from the debut Welcome To The Jungle in 1987 to Since I Don't Have You in 1994. Back in 1998 it was thus already a retrospective, and as G 'n' R have barely released anything new since then, a retrospective it remains.
However, this is unlikely to deter the legions of fans hungry for the sight and sounds of the legendary Axl Rose and killer guitarist Slash. Oh, and the other band members, of course.
The collection won't do much for the casual fan, as the videos tend to melt into one, with most of them comprising mainly shots of the band at various live gigs spliced together. Plus non-gig footage of Axl drowning, or Axl watching himself on television screens, or shots of crucifixes in churches, or Slash performing amazing guitar solos whilst strangely having no leads or amps connected to his guitar. Hmmm.
Starting at the beginning, however, is in this case a very good place to start. Welcome To The Jungle is an awesome track, demonstrating, for those who had forgotten, that G 'n' R started life as a glam rock band. Oh yes: big hair (Axl before the bandana) and tight leather trousers abound. The jungle is shown to be the big city, with a young fresh faced Axl descending from the out of town bus into the depths of the seedy city, but also to be other aspects of "civilisation" with images of wars on 100s of TV screens, later watched by a strait-jacketed, screaming Rose.
What next, except the masterpiece that is Sweet Child O' Mine? Axl has by now found his bandana, and ditched the back-combing. Shot in a studio, at times in grainy black and white, the pared down effect allows the beauty and power of the song to resonate through. And the guitar solo, attempted by guitarists everywhere (who probably wonder how on earth Slash can do it, considering he can clearly see nothing through his trademark black ringlets clustering over his face) has to be seen to be believed.
The Appetite For Destruction tracks are brought to a close by the sublime Paradise City. The video shows shots of New York, Concorde, and various stadia filling up with G 'n' R fans. This is the first of many videos where gigs at different locations are mixed and matched together. This neither shows the fan what it was to see the band perform live, nor provides for interesting viewing. And, on this particular song the mix is rather disturbing, as one of the gigs involves a rather chubby Rose wearing a white leather jacket, easily mistaken at first glance for Meatloaf.
Patience is a different kind of song, played on three acoustic guitars with a whistled intro by Rose. As for the scenese where Slash is shown in a hotel room fondling a rather large python, whilst a series of scantily clad young ladies approach the bed, their symbolism is best left to the imagination of the viewer.
Some of the later videos have "directors", and seem to be telling some kind of story. November Rain, for example, involves a wedding between Axl and a brunette, who later ends up in a coffin. Estranged has dictionary definitions of words such as "illusion", "estranged", etc, lots of people wearing white, and a classic scene of Slash performing his guitar solo whilst walking on water. Without a lead of course - otherwise he might have got electrocuted. The meaning, if there is one, remains obscure...
The super fast Garden Of Eden shows the band having fun, but in general in the latter half of the DVD the quality of the music starts to fade, leaving the viewer wishing (s)he'd stopped after November Rain.
Overall, one for the die hard fans only.